Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy Labor Day.

It appears to me a bit ironic, in some ways, that our country still celebrates Labor Day. Today's American holiday began in 1882 in New York City, a large parade having been put on by the Central Labor Union of New York. Although it was inspired by a labor festival in Canada, Oregon was the first state to officially recognize this celebration of the workers' contribution to society in 1887.

Following the death of Labor protestors and agitators at the hands of the US Army and federal marshals in the Pullman Strike, thirty states across the union followed Oregon's lead and adopted the holiday by 1894, when the federal government finally adopted Labor Day as an American celebration of the working class.

Traditionally, Labor Day consisted of local industry's parade to show esprit de corps followed by a festival for laborers and their families. Now, the day seems to inspire no more than an excuse for barbecue and beer.

Labor wants to eat your Bibles! Or something.

Perhaps that's why it's still celebrated. If Michele Bachmann was more well-versed on American history, she likely would be screaming her head off that it was a Communist institution inspired by Satan. Scott Walker would likely instead say "Labor Day hurts jobs" and then continue his war of attrition on worker's rights. The true meaning of the holiday likely has slipped beneath the attention of most of these anti-Labor fatcats. After all, it's far more well-known as the last day on the calendar to wear white.

Not so here. At OneAngryQueer, I'm celebrating, with gratitude, the sacrifices made by brave union leaders in years past. It's because of them that we have things like maternity leave, a minimum wage, and a 40-hour work week. We owe them a lot, and we can fulfill that debt by continuing to fight for the rights of the lower and middle class, and by saying "no" to the Koch Bros.-inspired policies that have attempted to destroy Labor in recent years.

So, Happy Labor Day from OAQ. Enjoy your barbecue and your beer, but take a moment to reflect why we have today's day off, and why Labor still fights for the right of the common worker.

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